The announcement marks the latest milestone for High Performance Computing (HPC) Wales, a company formed to manage a shared service collaboration of the Universities in Wales. This unique venture enables Welsh companies and university researchers to speed up innovation by accessing the latest supercomputing technology.
High performance computing technology has the capacity to handle and analyse massive amounts of data at high speed, bringing new products and services to the market faster. HPC Wales is of great strategic importance to the Welsh economy and aims to turn Wales into a leading international centre for specialist supercomputing research applications, ensuring that Wales grows its knowledge economy and has a strong international competitive advantage.
The scale and distributed nature of the undertaking, combined with its open access to business, makes it a unique initiative, unprecedented in the UK and the rest of Europe. The venture has been made possible with support of £24m from the Welsh Government and the Welsh European Funding Office, and £10m from the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The infrastructure and some services have been developed in partnership with Fujitsu, producers of the world’s fastest supercomputer.
At an event addressed by the Chief Science Adviser for Wales at the Senedd, it was also announced that Fujitsu, technology service provider for HPC Wales, has awarded seven fully-funded studentships across the marine energy, environment and life science sectors, generating over £500,000 inward investment in Wales. Over the next two years, they will fund a total of 20 studentships across key priority sectors in Wales.
Chief Executive of HPC Wales, David Craddock, said: “HPC Wales aims to make Welsh businesses more competitive in global markets and to grow the knowledge economy as well as creating employment opportunities.
“We are delighted to announce that not only is Wales home to an enviable high performance computing network and the largest distributed network in the UK, but both businesses and researchers across Wales are now able to access this innovative technology and services locally, simply and securely to speed up their research processes for commercial innovation. For those companies in the EU Convergence areas we can also provide heavily discounted services.”
One Welsh firm using high performance computing to boost competitiveness is Bangor-based Knowtra, an environmental specialist offering climate and ocean consultancy, training and oceanographic computer simulations. The company is using HPC Wales to produce enhanced simulations and develop algorithms which will help drive sales and safeguard jobs.
Director of Knowtra Dr Steve Spall said: “As an SME delivering oceanographic consultancy to international projects, we rely on modern computing to undertake simulations and data processing for our clients. HPC Wales will increase the computing capacity available to our team by 100 fold, enhancing the quality of our services and underpinning our planned growth.”